Tolkien and the World

Tolkien and the World was founded in 2003 as a programme to provide the works of J.R.R. Tolkien to schools and libraries in the less-developed world. Our aim is to work towards a situation where everyone in the world has access to Tolkien’s principal works of fiction.

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Why is this so important?

Tolkien and the World bookplate with artwork by Jef Murray
Tolkien and the World bookplate with artwork by Jef Murray

In Europe, North America, Australiasia, and Japan the works of J.R.R. Tolkien are widely available. The books are available from most – if not all – major bookshops either in English and/or translated into the local language. In most of these countries the prices are within reach of a large proportion of the population. In addition, most major public libraries will have copies of at least The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings available for loan, and those libraries that don’t will be able to find copies through local inter-library loan systems on request. Especially in the English-speaking areas, many school and university libraries will also hold copies of the books.

However in much of Africa, Asia, South America and the Pacific books can be very expensive for ordinary people, schools and libraries. Funds for public libraries are limited and will often be focused on more “useful” books or books by local authors. Where libraries have been stocked during colonial times the literature may be concentrated on traditionally classic authors (Shakespeare and the Brontë sisters, for example).

Tolkien is one of the most popular authors of all time, with The Lord of the Rings being the best-selling book of the 20th Century; his works are vibrant, engaging, deep and colourful. We want to give everyone the opportunity to experience and enjoy Tolkien’s works: Tolkien and the World will help us to share Tolkien’s works of fiction with peoples around the globe.


Preparing books for shipping to Turks and Caicos
Preparing books for shipping to Turks and Caicos

We have provided books to public libraries and schools in the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tristan da Cunha. This means that the all who live in these territories now have access to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion through schools and public libraries.

In addition we have provided books to two schools in Trinidad and Tobago.

Overall, we have supplied 78 books, 73 audio books and 1 braille book and reached up to 19,030 people, 4,070 of whom are 18 or under. This has cost us a total of £2,594.03 including the cost of the books, packaging, and shipping. That’s £0.14 per person.

Separately we have provided copies of The Ring Goes Ever On to all UK university libraries with an English department, together with copies to university libraries abroad in Serbia and the USA.


We have outstanding applications for books from schools in Jamaica, Grenada, and Belize. The cost of meeting these requests is £5,000. In addition to this the Ministry of Education in Trinidad and Tobago has asked if we could supply books for all 580 of their schools. The cost of providing this number of copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and 50 braille copies would be around £30,000.

An average donation of £35 (or £3 a month) from each member of the Society would raise our current target.

Longer-term targets

We have not yet reached out to territories in the Pacific or English speaking Africa and Asia. These areas have large populations and lots of schools and libraries, many of which rely on donations of books. The more donations we receive the further we can extend the programme.

Applying for books

We have a programme of targeting particular countries and territories and at present we particularly welcome applications from British Overseas Territories and from countries and territories in the Caribbean. However, if your library has difficulty providing books by J.R.R. Tolkien you may apply at any time wherever you are located.

To apply, get in touch with our Tolkien and the World Co-ordinator.

Get involved

Tolkien and the World is reliant on your donations.

You can donate online today.

If you would like to help in any other way, please contact our Tolkien and the World Co-ordinator, Trevor Reynolds.